Blood Symbol 1992 Review
Blood Symbol 1992
Directed by: Maurice Devereaux
Starring: Maurice Devereaux, Micheline Richard, Sophie Dion
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Maurice Devereux’s Blood Symbol took no less than seven years to finally acquire a release. Production began in mid 1984 and due to financial restraints plus a few cast-related problems, the movie stayed on the shelves until 1991. When you consider the changes that you as a person have been through in the past eighty-four months, you must admit that its amazing really that this wasn’t just left half-finished to gather cobwebs in a small dark cupboard. The hack and slash cycle was still fairly hot property in the mid-eighties. Unfortunately by the time that this had finally snuck onto shelves, audiences for these flicks were much smaller, which couldn’t have made it easy for Devereux. That’s a real shame, because Blood Symbol boasts an intriguing premise that combines elements from the abysmal Blood Cult and the cheese feast that is Hack-O-Lantern with a few directorial flourishes that could allow it to secure a place amongst the independent slasher elite.
The opening scene sees two young females being pursued through the woods by a group of hooded torch-wielding cult members. Devereux uses some pacey hand-held camera shots to make the chase scenes feel as pulse-rising as possible. The youngsters cannot out run the sadistic worshippers and when they’re finally caught, their harrowing screams shatter the murky night sky. After a great credit sequence, we skip a century or so to what we presume is the midst of the eighties and we’re introduced to our hapless heroine. Tracy Walker (Micheline Richard) has been having strange nightmares, which involve a creepy scar faced figure and a bizarre satanic symbol. When she is stalked at school by a similar black-gloved spectre, Tracy decides to look up the origins of the symbol at her college library. She uncovers a book that details the history of the motif, which involves a Satan worshipping cult that possessed a history of sacrificial slaughter throughout the late nineteenth century. Before long the nightmares become a reality as one of Tracy’s student friends disappears and the psychopathic stalker begins closing in on the petrified female.
As I said earlier, people change drastically over seven years. I myself must admit that I am thirty now – and scared to step on the scales! It’s interesting then to see how leading lady Micheline Richard seems to swap waist measurements prolifically from one scene to another. She kicks off the movie playing baseball and looking the part as a fresh-faced teenager, but every now and then she ages dramatically as one shot swaps with the next. It probably didn’t help matters that she had a bust up with the director three quarters of the way through production and a few later parts had to be filmed using a body double.
Despite these visual discrepancies, Blood Symbol manages to create a few decent shocks and scares throughout the runtime. Many of the nightmare sequences are shot in black and white and Devereux shows imagination behind the camera with some energetic photography and intriguing set pieces. There’s a terrific stalking sequence, which sees the director imitate John Carpenter’s flair for building suspense in the background behind the screen’s focal point. The first murder is equally creditable, because it mixes some squirm-inducing blood gushing with panache photography. The killer himself looks like a cross between Cropsy and the psychopath from City of Panic in a fedora, dark rain coat and ‘psycho’s only’ gloves. To be honest it would have been nice to see him perhaps slaughter a few more teenagers, because Blood Symbol contains a little too much stalking and not enough slashing. Still, the occasions when he was called to stain his trident with blood were good enough and fairly unique
As with all B-grade slasher obscurities, the performances in Blood Symbol are fairly patchy. It’s perhaps unjust to the original actors however as the movie was dubbed to cover their French-Canadian accents. It was shot on both 8mm and 16mm film and the differences in quality are obvious throughout. A few reviews that I’ve read elsewhere have criticised the choice for the ending, which to be fair does pop up from out of the blue and leave a few unanswered questions. I didn’t really feel that the final scene was too far out of place, because it made a refreshing change from the typical clichéd sequences that have been re-used continuously throughout the slasher genre since 1978.
Blood Symbol is certainly worth a look and has just enough potential to lift it above some of the B movie plop from this point of the genre. A few unpleasant gore scenes and some energetic Carpenter-inspired cinematography make this an above average thriller with a Satanic sheen. It has become extremely rare on VHS, but the recent success of Maurice Devereux’s latest title (Slashers) means that this could soon acquire a DVD release…
Final Girl √√√